I don’t feel so useless this morning about things. After spending most of the day playing around with my ornament designs, I finally feel like I came up with something that would be appealing and would be able to be explained clearly so that anyone who tries to make them can do so successfully. That may sound like an easy task, but for some reason or another, this time it was a bit more difficult.
Maybe because I was working with a new product that I, myself was not so certain of. When I teach (either in person or through my instruction packets and articles) one thing I tell my students is to “practice, practice and more practice.” I explain to them that everything doesn’t just come naturally all the time and more so than not, they need to be patient and learn the process of what they are trying to accomplish. “Be kind to yourself” I say “and before long you will begin to feel more comfortable and things will fall into place.”
I should learn to listen to my own advice.
I spent the past week wondering why it was taking me so long to finish these four seemingly simple designs. After all, I have done far more intricate patterns in far less time in the past. Was I losing my edge? Was I slipping? These questions were haunting me all week as I stumbled through what I was doing, not completely satisfied with any of it.
The harder I tried, the more difficult the task was becoming.
The criteria that I was not that demanding I felt – I wanted to make a pattern for a small set of ornaments (four pieces) that could not only be scrolled on the saw in the traditional manner (for those who absolutely do not want to try anything else) but could use the same line work and use the new texture product that I was using to create an entirely different look. I had come into this project with the idea that it would be simple to make a simple design. But I soon found that I had a tendency to over-complicate things, making either one method or the other near impossible.
In the process, I created several versions of the four ornaments that simply went in the trash. I felt it was a colossal waste of time on my part. Or was it?
I found myself questioning my own ability to think on a simpler level. While that seems like it would be an easy task, it is really quite difficult. After years of training my own mind to think of things at a higher level, it was not easy to back pedal and tone things down.
I know this doesn’t only happen to me, as I witness it in my partner Keith from time to time. He begins with an idea, and as it develops into a project, it tends to evolve into something that is far more complex than he originally anticipated. There are times when he frustrates himself as this snowball effect unfolds and I have witnessed him totally abandoning good ideas because they reach a point where it would be near impossible to ‘teach’ the process in a packet. It is at these times that I wonder to myself why he just doesn’t tone it down and make it easier, but after the experiences that I have had this past week, I am learning that doing so is sometimes easier said than done. I am finally getting it.
But there is much to be said for the process of ‘trial and error.’ While most people want things to go together trouble free, I think that going into designing a project with the idea that it will take many passes to get it to be how I envisioned it is the key to being successful. Investing the time and effort, knowing that there will be some failures along the way, is a good thing and will result in something that is quality and easily accomplished. I feel that I have finally reached that point.
So for today, I will be spending much of my day at the saw. Not only cutting out these ornaments, but also the project that I created earlier in the week. It is funny, but I got so caught up on the ornaments, that I had completely forgotten that I drew up another design for the magazine earlier in the week. When I came to this realization some time yesterday after my final drawing on the ornaments was finished, I was very relieved. Perhaps I wasn’t as much of a sloth as I thought I was.
Here is a part of one of the ornaments:
I look forward to seeing them come to life and I am quite excited about it. It will be a good day of creating and if all goes well, I will finally be able to realize the reward of seeing the finished projects in front of me. That is the best pay off that I can imagine.
The moral of the story is that we need to learn to be patient with ourselves. We need to learn to allow ourselves the room to make errors and correct them, all the time learning in the process. Errors shouldn’t always be viewed upon as failures, but as learning tools where we are applying practical experience to what we are trying to accomplish. And that can be the best teacher yet.
I wish you all a great Sunday. Be happy and play safe.
-- Contributing Editor, Creative Woodworks and Crafts, Sheila Landry Designs http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com "Knowledge is Power"